Italy has a large and varied terrain with four main ski areas...........
Italy has a large and varied terrain with four main ski areas that run along the line of the Italian Alps from East to West, along which you will find the Milky Way, Aosta, Monterosa and Dolomite ski areas. Italian skiing is relaxed and never taken too seriously with an emphasis on flattering terrain, late starts, long lunches and early finishes (sounds like our kind of skiing).
For an authentic European skiing holiday without the pomposity and eye watering prices, then Italy is just for you. Italian hospitality is warm and benevolent, food is great quality and cheap and the lift systems are up to date and efficient.
Skiing the Milky Way
In the West, The Milky Way probably the best budget ski resorts outside of Eastern Europe. The 6 resorts that make up The Milky Way are Pragelato Sauze d’Oulx, Claviere, Sestriere, Sansicario and Cesana in Italy and Montgenevre in France. These 6 resorts are all within such easy reach of Turin airport that a last minute weekend ski jaunt is totally doable. All some spectacular high altitude skiing with the area lift pass enabling you to ski two countries in the same day. Snowboarders will not be disappointed on the Milky Way with the superb new snowboard park in Sestriere and each resort having their own mini snowboard park.
Sauze d’Oulx is a definite party destination for those fancying more than a quiet après beer. Though as much as you will find party goers, drinking their way through bright coloured cocktails, you will also find fine diners sipping expensive bottles of Barolo, the local wine from North West Italy.
Claviere is a family friendly resort with oodles of character and a real blend of old and new. If you are heading to French Montgenevre for skiing or lunch then it’s worth paying a quick visit to Claviere first since it sits right on the French border. It’s a really pretty town popular with Italian families, a nice mix of France and Italy and a great base to ski the Claviere and Montgenevre pistes. A nice trip up the La Coche chairlift will take you halfway up the mountain in Claviere to the charming Italian café Chalet Monsoleil where you must try a Bombardino. Eggnog and brandy with whipped cream and perhaps a shot of espresso included. It would be rude not to indulge in a local favourite tipple! Claviere also conveniently has Pepi Penguin Nursery based in one of the hotels, The Grande Claviere, for 6 months to 4 year olds and also Whizz Kids Club for 4 to 11 year olds. Anyone staying in the resort can use their childcare facilities which includes a snowy activity each day such as sledging, bum boarding and snowman competitions.  They even do evening clubs. All worth knowing about when deciding on which resort to stay at!
Nicely sitting in the heart of the Milky Way, Sansicario is in a natural bowl, traffic free, peaceful and picturesque with a quiet après ski. Its position between Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere means that you will never tire of skiing the same terrain. You can stay local and enjoy the gentle quiet blues or more challenging reds, or venture out to enjoy the more challenging terrain of Sauze and Sestriere.
Sestriere is purpose built, not particularly attractive but has great snow conditions. It is high up and faces North West and has superb snow making equipment. This is possibly why it was chosen to host the 2006 Winter Olympics. Sestriere was originally built in the 1930’s under the instruction of the boss of Fiat, who wanted all his employees to enjoy winter sports. It has good skiing, some nice shops, plenty of options to eat and drink, great non-skier activities with snowmobile, dog sled rides, snow biking, husky sledding, paragliding, cinema and ice skating. All in all it’s a good all round resort, just not too pretty.
The Aosta Valley
The high mountains of the Aosta Valley mean that this ski area has the best ski conditions you will ever find. Up in the Aosta Valley you will find the high altitude resort of Cervinia. With a village height of 2,050 metres it is one of the highest villages in Europe and with pistes from a massive 3,820 metres, it is a particularly snow sure resort. Cervinia boasts one of the longest runs in the world and is pure heaven for intermediate cruisers. In fact, whatever type of skier you are, you are certainly catered for here. Snowboarders rate the area too, since there are several good snow and terrain parks.
The Monterosa includes the towns of Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna and we, at Snowfinders, believe that this is an undervalued gem of a ski area for all levels with the some of the toughest off-piste skiing anywhere in Europe. Really popular with expert off-pisters and with Italian weekenders, it has good snow reliability, quiet, charming, unspoilt villages and breathtakingly stunning views. A winner in our book!
The Dolomites
In the Brenta Dolomites, you will find the lovely and elegant town of Madonna di Campiglio. Popular with weekenders from Trento and Verona. To the East are the picture perfect and unique Dolomites with wonderful striking mountains, excellent food and low prices. Set in a beautiful wooded valley, Madonna di Campiglio is pretty and traditional yet on point for being one of the most fashionable ski resorts around. More fashionable still, is Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites where people take their fashion and shopping as seriously as they do their skiing. Smart bars, shops and restaurants, quiet slopes (since everyone is shopping), no queues and its setting amongst limestone cliffs that look almost pink first thing in the morning make Cortina a really special ski resort.